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15 Dec, 2017 23:38

Holocaust must be central to migrant integration courses – German justice minister

Holocaust must be central to migrant integration courses – German justice minister

After a wave of anti-Israeli protests, German authorities feel arriving refugees and migrants must be firmly reminded of the country's responsibility to the Jewish state accrued during the Nazi Holocaust.

Anti-Israel and anti-US rallies and the sight of Israeli flags burned on German streets have triggered the German politicians' concerns. All people who live in Germany must understand its historical responsibility to Israel, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday at an event marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish state.

“This responsibility does not end for the people who were born [after the Holocaust] and has no exceptions for the immigrants,” he said, adding that it is “not a subject to discussion for anyone living in Germany or willing to live there.” Justice Minister Heiko Maas took the idea further, suggesting that the issue of Holocaust should be a central part of the German integration courses for refugees and migrants.

“I believe it is absolutely necessary to make Holocaust and its significance for our society a central topic in our integration courses,” the minister said in a piece written for Der Spiegel weekly. “Lessons learnt from the Holocaust must become the key message of those [courses],” he added. At the same time, the minister pointed out that the German authorities would not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism, including that brought to Germany by refugees and migrants from the Middle East.

“Racism has no place in Germany, so everyone who wants to stay in Germany for the long term needs to be clear that we fight the Neo-Nazis’ anti-Semitism and we won’t tolerate any imported anti-Semitism from immigrants either,” Maas said. “Those who call for ‘death to Jews’ should not [be allowed to] take to the streets but should be taken to court instead,” he added.

Pro-Palestinian protests have gripped Germany in the wake of the US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel without regard for Palestinian's claim to the holy city.

Jens Spahn, a senior member of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party warned that the growing anti-Semitism is in fact a result of a massive inflow of refugees and migrants from the Middle East to Germany.

Many refugees and migrants come from countries where anti-Semitism is “an omnipresent part of the everyday life,” the politician told Der Spiegel. He went on to say that these people are likely to have deep-rooted anti-Semitic sentiments and it would take time to make them change their minds.

At the same time, he demanded that the German Muslim associations take a clearer stand on the issue and help the authorities to curb anti-Semitic sentiments. “In case of anti-Islamic hatred, you have every right to expect that we will take measures against it,” he said, addressing the German Muslim leaders and adding that “it also means however, that we should all make a stand against anti-Semitism.”
Earlier, the outbreaks of anti-Semitism at Berlin’s rallies were also condemned by the Jewish community and the German politicians across the political spectrum.